Review: Manhattan Plaza HD-S Freesat HD Receiver

Manhattan Plaza HD-S - Joinfreesat score 4.5 out of 5

The latest Freesat HD digital box to launch is the Manhattan Plaza HD-S Freesat HD Satellite Receiver and we’ve managed to get hold of one pre-release for our first ever joinfreesat review. Manhattan are hoping to add to the success of the existing DS-100 Freesat SD receiver with its ‘big brother’, which includes access to high-definition channels plus a few more features.

On first inspection you notice that the case itself is of good build quality including a silver bevel on the front concealing a few buttons. The unit is also very light and well proportioned thanks to the use of an external power supply which also keeps the case cool after hours of operation. The rear panel is well catered for and includes the LNB in port, HDMI, TV Scart, VCR Scart, S/PDIF (digital optical output), Ethernet and USB.

Manhattan Plaza HD-S Freesat HD Receiver

Setting up the HD-S is simple, just plug in the provided power supply unit and hdmi cable, then connect to your satellite dish cable and power up. You’ll be greeted with the initial setup screen which will guide you through the Freesat setup. The usual options are included to select from, such as screen type (16:9 widescreen or 4:3 traditional) and hdmi resolution to suit your television (576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p); the receiver will then carry out a signal check followed by requesting your UK postcode to define the regional channels you’ll receive. A channel scan will follow which takes a minute or so providing you with over 150 TV and radio channels, 5 of which are available in high-definition (BBC1 HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD, NHK World HD). The initial setup is simple, as enforced by Freesat, though you are forced to setup a PIN number for parental control which we would of liked to have skipped. Setup done, time to start viewing.

Manhattan Plaza HD-S Freesat HD Receiver

The first thing you notice when browsing through the channels is how smooth the receiver operates and the good quality picture and sound received on both standard and high-definition channels (though we did have a few sound blips when accessing menus etc). The remote control whilst basic is well structured and we found it incredibly easy to navigate around the various options; the up/down arrows allow you to scroll through the channels and left/right to see what is on now and next. The remote also works pointed in any direction which is a nice change from some that need a very accurate shot!

The EPG/TV Guide is incredibly clear and easy to navigate with 8 channels listed per page; we especially like the option to view channels 2 hours ahead/behind as well as the standard 24 hours +/- using the coloured buttons. Setting reminders is simple, just press the ok button the specific programme and it will be added to the reminders folder where you can view or remove them; again, scrolling the TV guide is very smooth and efficient; it is a shame however that the picture and sound isn’t available whilst in the TV guide, yet is in all the menu options (maybe a fix for the future!)

Manhattan Plaza HD-S EPG

Within the menu you’ll find the usual options to change picture and sound settings; the layout is clear and very easy to use. Within the (sub) system menu you can setup parental guidance, including hiding the adult content, plus the ability to turn the software update option on or off, or carry out a manual update (current version 1.39). The most important feature within the menu is the non-freesat mode, which allows you to view and add (to favourites) those channels that don’t currently appear in the official Freesat EPG/TV guide. You have the option to either automatically scan for channels (which finds hundreds) or manually tune in specific channels using the frequency information. We decided to try Sky News (yuk!) which was found within seconds and accessed with no problems.

Manhattan Plaza HD-S System Menu

A key feature of the HD-S is the ability to add both Freesat and non-freesat channels to a favourites list. We found adding and removing channels to the favourites list confusing, but being a man reading the instructions within the supplied user guide was not an option! Manhattan have provided multiple favourites lists, we guess for different genres if you wish, or for individual members of your family, but there is no doubt that once you figure out how to add them, it is incredibly handy being able to access a mix of Freesat and non-freesat channels via just one click of a button; you’ll only get a channel list, not programme listings, but it does the trick.

Manhattan Plaza HD-S Favourites List

At the moment the Ethernet port is setup to allow access to BBC iPlayer (via your broadband connection), with the expectation of ITV Player to come, plus maybe more. BBC iPlayer is useful, though as with all Freesat receivers, it is a watered down version so don’t expect HD quality as you receive on the PC version. The USB however has no purpose other than for manual software updates, which is a shame as the initial hints were that this device would offer the ability to record to an external USB memory stick or hard drive. It is also a pitty that the USB port hasn’t been used for accessing media files such as pictures, videos and music, but as explained to us by Manhattan, adding those options involved buying rights to various formats and this receiver is being targeted at the lower price bracket, so isn’t intended as a direct competitor to the TechniSat HDFS which is the only receiver with this facility.

Conclusion

We are incredibly impressed with the Manhattan Plaza HD-S, it offers excellent picture quality via HDMI, with the handy option of Scart for those that wish to future-proof and add a HD Ready television at a later date. The sound offered both through HDMI and the digital optical port is clear and crisp, though it does seem to blip for a second just after accessing menus. The TV guide is great and very easy to navigate, with no delays in scrolling through the lists or accessing channels. We love the favourites menu and the ability to add both Freesat and non-freesat channels and access them easily, but we did find adding them a little clumsy. The box design is simply but effective, as is the remote control which we found easy to use and were soon accessing channels and menus without even looking at it.

It is important to note that Manhattan have targetted the lower end of the Freesat HD price range, so whilst we’d love to have seen more features such as USB recording and playback, plus diseqc functionality, the receiver serves its purpose for those that just want a basic Freesat receiver capable of accessing both SD and HD channels in good quality with simplistic functionality. The HD-S is priced to take a large share of the Freesat HD market and we firmly believe at around £85 (rrp) it will be successful; if it can also retain the reliability of the existing DS-100 we think this little box will be a winner.

Joinfreesat score 9 out of 10
Review: Manhattan Plaza HDR-S Freesat+ HD Receiver

The Manhattan Plaza HD-S is due to launch in the next few days and will be available from Satbuyer plus others.

70 thoughts on “Review: Manhattan Plaza HD-S Freesat HD Receiver”

  1. @Alex

    Thanks for your explanations, it’s great to find this level of support.

    Yes a ‘night mode’ compression option might be nice. However it’s very impressive that you chose clean audio as the default at this price point. That and the compliments about PQ demonstrate a focus on quality at a modest price, which is a hugely popular and enduring USP as countless AV forums attest. As word gets out the HD-S should enjoy a long life – best of luck.

    Andy

  2. In the favorites list, can you arrange the channels in any order you wish? Reason for asking – can I do an autoscan in non freesat mode and then add channels in any order alongside the freesat channels?

  3. Hi, I need some help to set up my universal remote with the manhattan plaza HD-S. I can’t find a remote code for it on any of the remote code lists online? It should be 4 digits! Thanks if anyone can help

  4. Can anyone help with my problem I have just set up my HD-S everything works fine apart from the fact that the volume on the box only goes up to 20 which I can just about hear then I have to turn the TV volume almost to maximum to get a decent sound , I spoke to a manhattan tech guy and he said they were waiting for the ok from ITV to allow for an upgrade to be listed is this true or are they just fobbing me off and if they are is there a way round this problem woulb be very grateful for any feedback thanks John.

  5. Hi!

    Just gave the HD-S plus dish plus install deal 4/5 on the tesco website on account of a couple of little gripes and one big one…. the box “hangs”/”locks up” every other day needing a “reboot”..( hardware v1.1 / Software v1.39 & on ethernet), any chance of a fix to this?

    http://www.tesco.com/direct/manhattan-plaza-hd-s-freesat-hd-installation-bundle/731-1041.prd?pageLevel=sku&skuId=731-1041#content

    please cc any relevant replies to john-dot-bullas-at-gmail-dot-com please!

  6. I have the same problem as J from May 10th – the code for a universal controller having lost the original remote. Has anyone got any advice? Manhattan have not registered me

  7. Hi Dr. John Bullas,

    If your box hangs every day then it is faulty. We soak test receivers for a period of weeks before releasing them, and the HD-S never hangs or locks up.

    Please return it to your retailer for a replacement or refund.

    Best,

    Alex

  8. Hi Alex! Really happy to have read about the Plaza HD S. My parents had one installed in March 2012 through a Govenment scheme. They have noticed that there is absolutley no sound on the HD channels. Do you have a solution or know why this might be?

    The Technician connected it to a new dish using non digital wire from a Sky dish which has been up since the 1990’s. We were wondering if that would make a difference.

    I look forward to hearing your advice.

    Thanks,

    Lawrence

  9. Hi Lawrence,

    Sorry I just noticed your post here – I do not receive any email updates so periodically check. I wish you or your parents had contacted us via phone or website (www.manhattan-tv.com) so we could assist you. I suspect that in the Setup/Sound menu, Dolby Digital is set to ON. If their TV doesn’t support Dolby Digital (most don’t), this would explain why they hear no sound on HD channels (as most HD programmes are broadcast with Dolby Digital).

    Connecting it to the Sky Dish is fine, though I’m not quite sure what you mean by “non digital wire”. If the Setup/Information menu shows a decent signal, your wire is fine 🙂 To be honest, if they are getting a good HD picture that doesn’t break up, you can be sure the signal is fine, and it’s something else at fault.

    Please do let us know how you get on here, and follow up via our website or phone if necessary!

    Best,

    Alex

  10. i am very pleased with the picture on my manhatten freesat hd but i have always thought the sound sounded flat………i have just realised it is in mono hence i have not bothered using it since……..do i have to get a new box sent to me or is there something in the menu i can change……..also my brother has an sd manhatten box with the same problem

  11. Hi Stuart,

    Have you contacted Manhattan Technical support? There is an issue with some earlier software versions that means in some set-ups sound is only mono via SCART. This has been fixed. There is no issue with the HDMI or optical output.

    Best,

    Alex

  12. Could you tell me at what point the remote pick-up point on the front on the Manhattan Plaza Hd-S is, as I would like to mount it side ways in a cupboard.

  13. hi can you help please ? i have moved home and i keep trying to set up my plaza hdt-700 digi box, it keeps asking me for a pin number ???? i cant remember what number i put in when i first installed it … how can set it up in my new house ??? thanks pauline

  14. pauline said:
    hi can you help please ? i have moved home and i keep trying to set up my plaza hdt-700 digi box, it keeps asking me for a pin number ???? i cant remember what number i put in when i first installed it … how can set it up in my new house ??? thanks pauline

    That isn’t a freesat product so you might not get assistance here, but try 0000, that is a default number. Failing that, contact Manhattan via their website.

  15. Hi,my plaza hd freesat box showed very good signal strength and quality but no signal lock, I unplugged the box for 10 mins to reset then replugged only to find no signal at all. What can I do ? Any help would be appreciated

  16. Hi – similar problem as above. Box was working fine and then signal lock failed for around 1 week after which it was fine for around two weeks. The signal lock has now failed again (I have checked the connections at the back of the box which appear fine). Any help would be appriciated.

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